Thursday, March 14, 2013

Last Call

Have we finally found the Higgs boson?  The thorough analysis of a year's worth of data from CERN suggests that the missing piece of the subatomic particle puzzle has finally been found.

Last July, scientists at CERN, the Geneva-based European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced finding a particle they described as Higgs-like, but they stopped short of saying conclusively that it was the same particle or some version of it. 

Scientists have now finished going through the entire set of data year and announced the results in a statement and at a physics conference in the Italian Alps. 

"To me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson, though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is," said Joe Incandela, a physicist who heads one of the two main teams at CERN that each involve about 3,000 scientists. 

Its existence helps confirm the theory that objects gain their size and shape when particles interact in an energy field with a key particle, the Higgs boson. The more they attract, the theory goes, the bigger their mass will be. 

But, it remains an "open question," CERN said in a statement, whether this is the Higgs boson that was expected in the original formulation, or possibly the lightest of several predicted in some theories that go beyond that model. 

But for now, it said, there can be little doubt that a Higgs boson does exist, in some form. 

Whether or not it is a Higgs boson is demonstrated by how it interacts with other particles and its quantum properties, CERN said in the statement. The data "strongly indicates that it is a Higgs boson," it said.

So now the question is "which Higgs boson have we found?"  Being able to work with the particle that grants mass would pretty much revolutionize physics as we know it, but for now just knowing that "Hey, this is how the universe works" is pretty humbling.

Science for the win.

Cat's Out Of The Bag

I missed this last week, but growing up as a die-hard Carolina Panthers fan from the franchise's inception, I'm pretty pissed off about owner Jerry Richardson's apparent bald-faced lies during the last contract dispute.  Deadspin's Tommy Craggs has the details (proving once again why Deadspin is the best sports site out there):

In 2010 and 2011, as the NFL prepared for and staged a lockout of its players, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was among the hardest of the hardliners, urging his fellow owners to "take back our league" by demanding a more management-friendly collective-bargaining agreement.
Meanwhile, according to an audited financial statement obtained by Deadspin, Richardson's Panthers were making more than $100 million in profit over the fiscal years covering those two seasons. 
The statement is for the years ending March 31, 2011, and March 31, 2012. Over the first period, as Richardson argued that the NFL's business model was hopelessly broken and steered the owners toward a showdown to extract more money from the players, the Panthers recorded an operating profit of $78.7 million. The team had gone 2-14 on the field, but Richardson and his partners were able to pay themselves $12 million.
Over the following year, after the owners had won their lockout and reduced the players' share of league revenue from 50 percent to 47 percent, the Panthers brought in $33.3 million in operating profit. Richardson began lobbying for public subsidies to renovate his 17-year-old stadium. The team went 6-10.
The pro football business was very good in Carolina in those two years, even if the pro football wasn't. That much is evident from the document, which can be found at the bottom of the post and which offers a rare look inside an NFL club's books.
Team financials in all sports are closely guarded documents, particularly because so much league business—stadium deals with municipalities, negotiations with players unions—relies on obscuring the owners' financial picture. During collective bargaining in 2011, the NFL players union repeatedly asked owners to open their books. They were repeatedly denied.

So in the year before and after the lockout, the Panthers made $110 million for a team that went a dismal 8-24 over two years, but Charlotte taxpayers need to fork over $200 million for stadium renovations?

Ah, but new GOP Gov. (and former Charlotte Mayor) Pat McCrory is quite offended by that, and he's not giving in to Richardson's extortion.  I'm pretty sure the Deadspin article has killed the Bank of America Stadium renovation deal for good, and that means the Panthers may not be in Carolina much longer.

The proposal called for the state and the City of Charlotte to give the Carolina Panthers about $200 million in public money to upgrade Bank of America Stadium. In exchange the Panthers were going to stay in the Queen City for 15 years. 

But the Governor is refusing to fork over taxpayers' money, and lawmakers won't approve a 1% increase of the prepared foods tax.

"My fear is the Panthers stay in Charlotte is on life support" says Charlotte city council member Andy Dulin.

Charlotte already lost the NBA's Hornets to New Orleans a decade ago when owner George Shinn pulled the same stunt.  BET network CEO Bob Johnson stepped in with the Carolina Bobcats (and with New Orleans taking the Pelicans for their franchise name next season, there's a push to rename the Bobcats back to the Hornets.)   Johnson's had mixed success, but he hasn't tried to pull any of the same crap either.

But Richardson it seems is either going to get his money, or going to go to a city who will bankrupt their coffers to bring the Panthers there.  Where would they go?  Vegas?  Portland?  Maybe the first Canadian NFL team?  I'd certainly miss them, but not if Richardson is going to lie about having hundreds of millions in his pocket and plead poverty.

That cat don't hunt.

The Mask Slips Again...

...And Republicans accidentally tell the truth.

Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) made a startling admission on CNN’s Starting Point on Wednesday morning, telling host Soledad O’Brien that Republicans are not concerned about how they cut spending — or the millions of people who suffer as a result — so long as they achieve a balanced budget.
Of course they don't.  The austerity fetish is really simple, actually.  We elected Obama, therefore we must learn our place.  If the people are made to suffer, then they will be humble.  More importantly, if the electorate comes to understand that prosperity for the 99% will never be allowed to happen under a Democrat, then all will be right.

REP. PRICE: We believe it’s important to balance not the how of ‘how you balance,’ but the ‘why’, why is it important to balance. well it’s important to get our budget in balance, so that means that Washington doesn’t spend more money than it takes in, just like families can’t, just like businesses across this country can’t. 

Of course Tom Price understands nothing about macroeconomics.  He is a charlatan, a moron, and a fool.  Countries have been deficit-spending for decades now.  Reagan exploded deficits and the national debt, as did Poppy Bush, as did Dubya.  It was Clinton who balanced the budget last.

But Republicans have now finally admitted that austerity for austerity's sake was always the plan.   Americans have to suffer now.  You, your loved ones, your community, your friends, you will be made to suffer by rich white men who demand fealty.  You must be punished for your defiance.  It doesn't matter what is cut, as long as it's cut.

It's for your own good.


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